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From the Director’s Desk

Editorial: Untaming the Artist?

A Change of Banks!

Focus: Autumn Season 2004 Authors!

An Update on IP.assess


Out & About

Your Deal

Vol 6, No. 2 — ISSN 1442-0023

SaraWelcome to eNews and the launch of our Autumn 2004 publishing season.

In this issue, we celebrate the release of our brand spanking new titles: Merle Thornton’s After Moonlight, Dianne Cleary’s Perfect People and Café Boogie by Jenni Nixon. We also celebrate the release of the text/audio version of Swelter by Louise Waller and Kristin Hannaford.

These works—a novel, non-fiction book, poetry collection and text+audio CD—reflect the growing diversity of our list.

They also illustrate the flexibility of independent publishing, a subject addressed further by David in his Editorial.

In Focus, Jenni Nixon provides us with our first feature article in verse. Dianne Cleary explains her motivation for Perfect People and Merle Thornton tells us why launching After Moonlight at the Regatta Hotel in Brisbane, the site of her famous protest action, is so special. An important reminder to our readers to hurry with those RSVPs for this event on April 21. Don’t miss out!

I revive Bestlinks with a feature on two of the quality titles offered from other Queensland based independent publishers, the hospital for dolls by Melissa Ashley from Post Pressed and Graham Nunn’s A Zen Firecracker, Collected Haiku from Impressed Publishing. The Director of the latter explains the philosophy behind his new publishing house.

David is Out and About previewing some of the launch details as well as his upcoming tour, and he updates us on the new ip.assess service.

This issue is for our new authors and for you, our readers. So before you click away, check out our special deals and pick up a few books to snuggle up with in the winter months ahead. For readers in the North—get em while they’re hot!

Sara Moss, Editor, IP eNews

From the Director's Desk

DR_roofThose of you who have been following IP's evolution over the past seven years will be suitably impressed to see the range and diversity of titles in our upcoming Spring 2004 Season. No less than eight new titles will soon be out there, and the residence of the authors reflects IP’s position as a national publisher.

In order of launch events (not importance!), in early October, we’ll have Wendy Evan’s The Diggings Are Silent an intriguing collection of short fiction that was Commended in the 2004 IP Picks competition. Wendy’s a WA author, and she’s teamed up with song writer and performer Alan Ferguson, who put the title story to music, which will be released by IP Digital at the same time as Wendy’s book.

Later that month, I'll travel to Victoria for events in Melbourne and Benalla in support of Joel Deane’s novel Another and Cate Kennedy’s second poetry collection, Joyflight. Both were 2004 IP Picks winners in their respective categories.


Dr David Reiter

Untaming the Artist?

Are the arts poised to become more popular in these anxious times? This is the buzz in the current fuel4arts online chat aimed at expanding sponsorships and donations to needy arts organisations (is there any other kind?) The idea is that the arts offer respite from our daily cares—a meaningful one, as opposed to the pap offered by “reality TV”.

Since Plato, artists have been lectured on the need to make their work more socially astute, that is, in a complementary shade to the current fashion and opinion. The same advice applies to arts organisations that want to attract corporate sponsorships. They must deliver cultural products that have a positive impact on a company’s bottom line, which is seldom found in the same department as its social conscience.

These partnerships between producers of art and corporate sponsors can be rather artful in themselves. Consider the example of the UK television program Silent Witness, where Professor and Chief Forensic Pathologist Sam Ryan gets to commune with a sexy iMac, complete with a 20” LCD monitor, while her subordinates are left to muddle on with grey Windows work stations. Is there any doubt whose diagnosis we should trust—or whose computer we should buy?

But even among the artists’ artists it must be hard sometimes to resist the temptation to deliver a work that has base commercial appeal, something that might look forward to an afterlife in plasticine. A book cover that can sit well on the coffee tables of corporate waiting rooms. Or a cunningly proportioned artwork that might grace the wall of boardrooms thirty floors and higher—and not clash with the colour scheme.

If more corporations saw a payoff in sponsoring the arts, arts organisations could gravitate toward the commercial world, weaning themselves away from dependence on government grants. With the time saved from applying for and acquitting grants alone, these organisations might produce even more art works, street-savvy and robust.

But do these arts organisations have what it takes to go cold turkey? And how many artists are willing to concede that ‘meeting the market’ should be a factor in the projects they take on?

The fact of the matter is that government funding for the arts will continue to erode in the face of more pressing social priorities. When has a government ever fallen due to a failed arts policy? If the arts budget drops from 0.1% of the health budget to 0.05%, who will go out on the streets in support of endangered artists? Is that because we all silently share the view that the best artists will always find a way to get their work produced? Or do we think that hunger is the best safeguard against complacency in our artists?

Individual artists may have to spend less time “networking” with the bureaucrats over the funding crumbs and more time creating work that attracts interest—and dollars—from ordinary people, and that’s probably a good thing. People have lost faith in their politicians to address the big picture issues, so artists who find a way to make insightful comment through their work may find new audiences who will embrace their work for its substance and craft, rather than the business plan behind it. The alternative is what we have too much of already: a tame, politically anorexic art that is all-too comfortable speaking to itself.


<title>IP eNews</title>

It may be mundane, but it’s still important to let you know... IP has changed banks, so, for those of you wanting to pay us in the cyber sort of way, you need to make note of our new EFT details, effective immediately:

Bank: Suncorp, Carindale S/C
BSB: 484-799
Account: Interactive Publications
Account Number: 16-111463-8

These details are also on our Orders page.

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Over the past month, we have interviewed and certified quite a few freelance assessors to work with us in our new premium service. (Thanks to all the State Writers Centres and others for helping us get out the word!)

We now have sufficient numbers of highly qualified assessors to let you know that IP.assess is now open for business.

Again, a key difference between IP.assess and traditional assessment services is that ours is the only one hosted by a publishing house. We will only take on mss that have a good chance of getting published, and our assessors will focus their comments on getting those promising mss to the next stage at which IP or other publishers will be more likely to say yes.

Since we put the emphasis on the digital review of mss, our assessors can live anywhere in Australia, and we’re particularly pleased to have added assessors to the register who live in regional areas of the country.

For full details on IP.assess, please check out its home page.

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[In this issue, we focus on our new authors: Jenni Nixon; Dianne Cleary and Merle Thornton. I asked each of them to explain what inspires their writing. Their responses are as diverse and unique as the titles we’re releasing this season.

Merle Thornton tells us why it means so much to launch her book, After Moonlight, at the Regatta Hotel in Brisbane, Dianne Cleary describes her recipe for success in soufflés as well as books, and Jenni Nixon gives her answer in verse.]

Why launch After Moonlight at the Regatta Hotel?

MerleTThe Regatta is an important site for me personally, because it was the place where my public efforts towards the full acceptance of women in public life began. And the Regatta is now a changed site, welcoming to women in all its public spaces. It has become emblematic of the changed presence of women in Australian public life.

After Moonlight is a novel, a story about a contemporary woman character Claire, aged thirty-seven. She lives in a very different Australia from that in 1965 when I chained myself to the Regatta bar rail. Women are out in public life now, but there are new problems to confront. Though quirky rather than typical as a personality, Claire is nonetheless broadly representative of the difficulties of confronting the changed balance of the personal, the political, the professional.

It seems to me fitting to bring my book about a woman facing the new problems back to the Regatta where I confronted the old prohibitions.

— Merle Thornton

<title>IP eNews </title>

It’s really a simple enough recipe, not unlike a soufflé…

Step 1 Take one Australian corporate career woman nudging forty who knows little or nothing about raising children and get her pregnant

Step 2
Set her and her new born child in a world of terrorism and war

DianneCStep 3 Watch her self-confidence wilt and her fears flourish as she comes to terms with the enormity of the task set for her in raising a perfect child in the unforgiving 21st century

Step 4 Witness her drive to distraction as she badgers a wide range of well-known Australians - sports stars, media personalities, business leaders - into telling a personal story, showing that there is no such thing as perfection and that their feet are made of clay, just like everyone else

Step 5 Use these stories to show that clay feet dont stop people reaching extraordinary achievements

Step 6 Weave the stories together with a subtle “story between the stories”

Step 7 Get the book published and launched

Step 8 Give all your proceeds to the Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

And, just like all my attempts at making soufflés, this one was a very up and down process.

Writing has always been a bit of a hobby; something I’ve used to try to ignite the creative side of my mind, which is otherwise subsumed by my focus on business issues as I try to perform in my role as partner in a global management consulting firm.

But as a newish mother—my son is now three years old—and a fulltime worker, time is the biggest constraint to writing.

My decision to write Perfect People was the result of passion and fear. I feel passionate about kids and giving them the opportunity to grow in a secure loving environment where they can make mistakes and recover without being branded “failures” or “outcasts”. I am fearful of the pressures of Australia’s new benchmark, “perfection” and the unrealistic demands it places on kids, parents and carers alike. So, I decided to make the time to write.

Researching and writing Perfect People took me on a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows as I tried to encourage some of Australia’s most gifted and famous people to share my enthusiasm and their personal tales for a book that dispels the myth of perfection.

Over the more than two years of writing the book I met and spoke with over 100 incredibly talented people. I was surprised to find how down-to-earth and generous some of them are. I laughed at their stories. I was annoyed and dismayed by the rejections. And, often swore in frustration as I tried to weave the stories and interactions into a book that people would finding engaging and fun to read, while juggling the rest of life.

Now, with the book ready for its launch at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, I feel relieved that it’s finished and look forward to my next big challenge, making that perfect soufflé.

— Dianne Cleary

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poetry    the run of a line    a sonnet on the breath
began for me    as voice exercises in Drama School
author’s intention    emphasis    alliteration    humour
Poe’s moon    never beams without bringing me dreams
Robinson’s old Eben Flood    drunk    with only two moons    listening
Dylan Thomas’s    the moon that is always rising
lunar love    honey pouring out all over the page    sweet tumbles
sound flourishes    I’d practice the words for hours

play a maid with a feather duster in Skin of our Teeth
a pregnant mother of no-neck monsters in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
accused of witchcraft in The Crucible    learn to be stoical
sell pigs and piss and prostitutes in Bartholomew Fair
climb Halfway Up The Tree in the Ustinov play
in a Greek tragedy    learn acceptance as Antigone
dying daily with the Queensland Theatre Company—
do a poetry program for high school kids    That’s What I Said
includes Australian Poets (Judith Wright’s Country Dance)

returning to Sydney and unemployment    
met contemporary poets    Vicki Viidikas   Pam Brown    
joanne burns    and many in the Sydney scene
I start performing their work    at the Nimrod    
the Bondi Pavilion    writing my own poems    
invited to read at the Harold Park Hotel
published in Love and Death and the Effect of Aids on Desire
love is active    like breath    you cannot hold forever
contribute to small press publications
join women writers groups
though ill health causing problems   I have a new career path

writing poetry is no way to earn a living    I like to confront fears
unleash the volcano    see what lies beneath surface anger
find the magic    the gem that has me gasping with surprise
bursting with laughter    stifling giggles    
it’s the challenge to get it right
I hope to connect with the reader/audience    
make a difference    deliver a poem    
engage   absorb and respond
with fear    the shakes    stand and deliver    
(sometimes I    prefer to sit     however    you get the drift)
it‘s a choice to keep some kind of record

a powerful influence on my writing is listening to music
I’d be truly mad without poets and players of songs
friends for films and theatre visits    
books     daily diet of TV fodder
ego-deflation   input from my cats    
their demands for food on time
critical response of willing listeners
to my reading of the work    out aloud

I’m a performer    I like to entertain    
leave you wanting more

— Jenni Nixon

<title>IP eNews </title>


Autumn Season 2004 is about to hit the road! Not far in the first instance, since we plan to return to our usual practice of kicking off with a Brisbane event before heading elsewhere.

April 21 will see a gala launch at the Regatta Hotel in Toowong. Aside from being a watering hole of great historic interest, the Regatta was the scene of a now infamous blow to male supremacy, courtesy of Merle Thornton and Ro Bogner, who chained themselves to the public bar to protest against the exclusion of women from the pub.

We’ve certainly come a long way since 1965! Enemies have long since turned friends, and now the Regatta, which has been undergoing a facelift of the non-cosmetic kind for the past year, has aptly named one of its new function spaces The Thornton Room.

After_Moonlight_CovWhat better place to serve as the launching pad for Merle’s novel After Moonlight, which will be the featured work at an event generously hosted by the Regatta.

Besides the usual reading and signing segments, a highlight of the evening will be a conversation between Merle and her actor-daughter Sigrid, who will be launching the book.

RSVPs by yesterday, please, and by email.

Conspicuous by their presence will be our other Autumn 2004 releases.

Perfect People is a new Glass House Books release by SydneyPerfect_People_Cov management consultant Dianne Cleary. If Bridget Jones could ever get it together enough to write a how-to book, this might be it. Dianne goes behind the spin doctors and publicity machines to track down over 100 of Australia’s most successful and famous people, and, through candid interviews, reveals some of their dreams, fears, imperfections, blunders and gaffs—all in the name of giving us advice on what comprises “success” in contemporary society.

The project caught the imagination of Professor David Bennett, who runs an adolescent health care unit at The Children’s Hospital, Westmead and who believes Dianne’s book could serve as a useful guide to parents wanting to give their children a head start in life. So, the hospital will be hosting the Sydney launch of Perfect People on 28 April, from 3 p.m.—just in time for Mother’s Day.

Cafe BoogieAlso from Sydney is Jenni Nixon, well-known in spoken word circles there, whose first book Café Boogie was Commended in the IP Picks 2003 competition. Hard-hitting and street-wise, Jenni’s poetry ventures where many well-groomed poets fear to tred, but always with an eye to craft and clarity of vision. Café Boogie will have its Sydney launch in June at Gleebooks, but Sydneysiders can jump the queue by placing their order with us from 21 April.

Finally, following on the success of Chris Mansell’s The Fickle SWCDCovBrat, IP Digital will release the second title in our Audio + Text Series, Swelter, by Louise Waller and Kristin Hannaford. This duo from Yeppoon (near Rockhampton) was born to perform, and much of their work is performance-based, so it was a natural for the new Series.

Kristin and Louise are quietly confident that an application for funding from Arts Queensland will come through, enabling them to tour Central Queensland extensively later in the year. We’ll keep you posted.

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As we speak, David’s itinerary for a swing through western New South Wales, Melbourne, Canberra, and towns along the New England Highway is taking shape.

GreenhouseCovLiars_LoversCentral to this will be the Melbourne launch of After Moonlight, but David will also be promoting his novel Liars and Lovers as well as his magical realism novel for older children, The Greenhouse Effect, which appeared from Lothian Books in January.

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In this issue we feature some of the fine work produced by two of our local friends in independent publishing, Post Pressed and the newly established Impressed Publishing. We also invite David Weekes, the Director of Impressed Publishing, to tell us more about the venture.

Melissa Ashley, the hospital for dolls
Post Pressed, 2003, ISBN 1 876682 50 7.

I first heard Melissa Ashley’s poetry at the Queensland Poetry Festival in the mid 90s. One of a promising generation of Queensland-based young poets, Melissa was also co-director of the festival for a number of years. I liked her work then and I still do. She has broadened her scope from lyrical pieces, with which I was more familiar, to scholarly prose. I am pleased to say that with the latter she still retains a strong and unique poetic voice.

dollshospCovThe lyrically structured poems are still here, among them, the gut wrenching title poem, “the hospital for dolls”, exploring the emotional consequences of an abortion. But in this collection, Ashley delves even deeper into women’s experiences, exploring the physical dimensions in visceral detail.

What I most admire about Ashley’s work is her unapologetic feminism and her analytical approach to history and experience. In a sense, I read many of these poems and prose pieces as history made flesh. A good example is “how it feels to be force fed” after djunna barnes, which recalls the experience of imprisoned suffragettes.

when they come into your cell    you sew your eyes
   to the ceiling
fix your attention    on the bad light
a sluggish cockroach   the mildewed graffiti…

...the liquid funnelled    into the rubber tubes  has the
consistency of semen    a butter-yellow concoction of
milk and raw eggs    there are swabs soaked    in    cocaine
and disinfectant    for your nose…

…years later    whenever you smell the contents of a
bucket full of soapy water    when they forced their
way into your    a scratching at the lock like mice

we will let you breathe when you turn purple…

This poem achieves more in a few simple lines than hours of lecturing on the significance of women’s struggle. I suggest it should be compulsory reading for all young women who glibly declare themselves “non-feminists”.

However, Ashley’s first collection isn’t uniformly brilliant and I would be doing it and her a disservice to just shower it with praise. There’s evidence of recent academic study, resulting in obscure references that would be lost on many readers. I think she needs time for the theory to settle, to be more fully integrated with her own strong voice.

The biography in the hospital for dolls states that Melissa Ashley has moved to Melbourne where she’s writing a novel. For selfish reasons, I hope she’ll keep writing poetry.

You can order your copy of the hospital for dolls directly from Post Pressed.

Graham Nunn, A Zen Firecracker, Selected Haiku Impressed Publishing, 2004, IBSN 0-9751618-1-4.

Graham Nunn is another Queensland author with a long history of association with the local poetry festival. He is a writer of both haiku and contemporary verse. A Zen Firecracker, Collected Haiku is his first book.

I’ve yet to have the pleasure of reading this title, so we invited the author to submit this blurb.

Within the cracker-coloured covers of this pocket-sized (167mm x 110mm) book, Graham Nunn fires off 100 haiku.

ZenCovWith a maximum of two haiku per page, each of the poems is honoured by the generous white space around them. Near-random spacing on the page, and variation of haiku line alignments, help suppress any carry-over of mood and image between haiku—there is little need for mind-clearing breaks when reading.

The haiku in A Zen Firecracker have a distinctly Australian voice and include many local subjects: flying fox, sheep, ti-tree, rosella, jacaranda, curlew, and whip bird:

high in the canopy
shrill crack
of the whip bird

There are also many haiku finely attuned to the seasons:

leaves all raked
autumn moon
hangs in the branches

Reflections is another common theme, such as in this delightful prize-winning poem:

distant thunder
each stroke of the oar
stirs the clouds

Some of the haiku take risks and step outside the mainstream:

at the back of my throat
autumn deepens

Others have the pleasure of the simple:
standing alone

my shadow
taller than me

In terms of craft the haiku are somewhat on the minimalist side, but, as with many things, sometimes less is more:

on its hanger
the t-shirt shrugs
one shoulder

You can order your own A Zen Firecracker from the publisher’s site.

(graphic and link to site)

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I asked David Weekes, the Director of Impressed Publishing, to tell us a little something about his venture…

ImpressPubImpressed Publishing began operations in late 2003 as a result of a combination of too many martinis, too many poets, and the inspiration of a book entitled Ahead of its Time the history of Clocktower Press.

Although still in its infancy Impressed has stepped up to the crease with a winning combination of some of Australia’s best poets and authors including Brentley Frazer, Stephen Oliver, Graham Nunn, and Fakie Wilde.

Impressed has released three books to date besides A Zen Firecracker: XONNOX by Fakie Wilde, and two anthologies entitled Text Messages and Speedpoets: the best of 2003.

The next few weeks will see the launch of Impressed’s next two titles: The Throat’s Arroyo by Stephen Oliver, and Share The Tragedy, Graham Nunn’s second title.

The future is looking bright for Impressed Publishing with several collaborations in the works and a swag of more books on the way in 2004.

Impressed Publishing is an ambitious little project, seeking to return the power of the written word to the author and wrest it from the grasp of the corporate publisher.

<title>IP eNews </title>

Deal 1: Order any IP poetry title and get a second one for 50% off.

Buy any two titles from the IP Shop via our order page to qualify. Do it before 1 May and and we’ll throw in free postage and handling (a flat $5 charge applies thereafter.

Quote YD:22_1. Payment by cheque, money order or EFT only. Credit card orders, add $2 per title.

Deal 2: Order an IP Six-pack for $66 + $6.

Your choice of any six IP titles published before 2003 for just $11 each, GST-inclusive, plus a flat $6 postage and handling

uoting YD:22_2. Payment by cheque, money order or EFT only. Credit card orders, add $3.

FIPC members get a further 10% discount off the cost of either package plus free postage. Sign up now and get the benefits of Club membership today.

Offers available only to individuals.